View of downtown Milwaukee with the emphasis on the art museum.

Top 10 Running Trails in Milwaukee

Map of the top 10 running trails in Milwaukee, WI.

Milwaukee has several spectacular running trails and routes for runners of all skill levels. Whether you’re just starting your running journey or have been at it for years, here are 10 running trails in Milwaukee that locals recommend.

1. Oak Leaf Trail

View of Oak Leak Trail next to the Milwaukee Lake,

The Oak Leaf Trail is a massive trail that runs more than 115 miles through and around Milwaukee. Its surface is primarily asphalt, offering a smooth and easy path that runners of all skill levels and abilities will enjoy and appreciate. As you run this scenic route, you’ll experience a little bit of everything, from urban hills through the city to lakeside views along Lake Michigan and picturesque rural farmland. Several local points of interest on the trail include the Milwaukee Art Museum, Brown Deer Park, Lakeshore State Park, Grant Park, and more.

Tips: The Oak Leaf Trail offers plenty of opportunities to get a great workout, but it’s also an excellent way to explore the city. It features dozens of easy connections that will take you all over the Milwaukee Metro Area!

2. Beerline Trail

A bench and path at Beerline Trail in Milwaukee, WI/

The Beerline Trail is named for its location near many former Milwaukee brewery locations. Once used by freight trains to transport beer ingredients to many of these breweries, it’s now a heavily-used multi-purpose trail, offering about 3.7 miles (out and back) of bliss for avid runners. You can start your ride just north of downtown at Pleasant Street and head north through Gordon Park. The trail continues through the Riverwest neighborhood and ends just north of Capitol Drive, almost to the city of Glendale.

Tips: A main highlight of the Beerline Trail is the Marsupial Pedestrian Bridge, which features a scenic portion of the route that extends across the Milwaukee River.

3. Whitefish Bay neighborhood

On of the big mansions in the Whitefish Bay neighborhood in Milwaukee,WI.

If you prefer running through residential areas, the Whitefish Bay neighborhood is a beautiful area that’s ideal for runners. Located just a few miles north of downtown Milwaukee, this neighborhood features beautiful shady streets with sidewalks and historic homes. The streets are well-lit, and the area is nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan, offering some excellent water views. The neighborhood also has plenty of coffee shops and cafes if you need a quick pick-me-up after your run.

Tips: If you run a little further north past Cardinal Stritch University, you’ll end up in the Fox Point neighborhood, another great area for residential runners.

4. Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Sign at the Ice Age National Scenic Route.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,000-mile route highlighting Wisconsin’s unique landscape, sculpted by glacial ice. The massive trail stretches across the entire state, spotlighting some of its most beautiful natural areas. In the Milwaukee area, it passes through Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha Counties, providing plenty of options for runners. Although most of the trail offers a scenic off-road running experience, portions of it route you through the main thoroughfares of Milwaukee-area communities, featuring the best of both worlds. This path is truly extraordinary and is one of only eleven National Scenic Trails in the nation.

Tips: Dogs are also allowed on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, but certain sections prohibit them under local law. Just make sure you do your research before you hit this trail with your fur pal!

5. Washington Park

Welcome sign at Washington Park in Milwaukee, WI.

Washington Park is just west of downtown and is a beautiful urban oasis for runners to enjoy. Designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, this park is enormous and features about 2.5 miles of running trails. It’s also home to the Urban Ecology Center, offering environmental education, community science, and other educational programs for community members. The trails are paved and wind through the park’s various points of interest, including a kids’ playground, splash pad, pool, band shell, and sports fields.

Tips: A quick run around the park’s lagoon is about 1 mile and offers a scenic and relatively easy workout.

6. Hank Aaron State Trail

View of downtown water from the Hank Aaron State Park Trail.

Hank Aaron State Trail is one of the most popular running trails in the city! This 15.2-mile route passes through Milwaukee County, starting at Lake Michigan and continuing to the Waukesha County Line. The trail is mostly asphalt and passes several points of interest, including the famous Discovery World museum, Lakeshore State Park, Harley-Davidson Museum, Wisconsin State Fair Park, Pettit National Ice Center, and Marquette University’s Valley Fields. One of the most diverse trails for runners in the Milwaukee area, a run along this path will also lead you through a variety of landscapes, like prairie, thickly wooded areas, around rivers, and through urban areas.

Tips: If you don’t want to run a loop there and back on the Hank Aaron State Trail, you can continue to Three Bridges Park instead.

7. Lapham Peak State Park

View of Lapham Peak State park from the observation tower.

Lapham Peak State Park is just 25 miles west of Milwaukee, offering stunning natural scenery for runners who want a break from the city. The park has over 17 miles of trails that loop through the forest. And with varying difficulty levels, these off-road routes are a runner’s paradise! You can also combine multiple loop trails to create your own circuit route. The park also has an observation tower (which you can run to) that offers panoramic views over the area.

Tips: The Ice Age National Scenic Trail also cuts through Lapham Peak State Park, offering a chance to sample it.

8. Milwaukee Riverwalk

Milwaukee River walk picture.

For a quick but great urban 2-mile run, the Milwaukee Riverwalk is an excellent option. As you make your way along the river to Humboldt Avenue, you’ll get a wonderful tour of the city’s heart and its three distinct neighborhoods: the Historic Third Ward, downtown Milwaukee, and Beerline B. The route is also very easy to follow if you’re new to the area or visiting. Just look for the directional signs all along the way. The Milwaukee Riverwalk is also well-known for its public art, which provides unique scenery throughout this running route.

Tips: The southern portion of the Milwaukee Riverwalk is close to some of its most popular museums and the BMO Harris Bradley Center, a massive multi-purpose arena.

9. Seven Bridges Trail

View of Seven Bridges Trail in Milwaukee, WI.

The Seven Bridges Trail is a stunning and short 2-mile route that nature-loving runners will want to return to over and over. It’s just off the shore of Lake Michigan, south of Milwaukee in Grant Park, and features massive trees, 10 bridges, 100-year-old stairways, and secluded scenery. It begins at the covered bridge entrance and leads to a concealed beach area where you can take in the water views, stretch, or relax for a bit before running back to the starting point. Admission to this city park is free, and you can explore several different trail routes within it.

Tips: Seven Bridges Trail is closed during winter due to icy conditions.

10. Lakefront Trail

Downtown Milwaukee from the Lakefront Trail.

The Lakefront Trail is a spectacular 3-mile paved loop along Lake Michigan and an easy route for runners of all skill levels. It starts near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and continues along the lake, offering scenic views of both the city and water. The route passes several local points of interest, including the McKinley Marina, Veterans Park, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. The ample parking nearby makes running this trail ultra-convenient, and you can start anywhere along the route to customize the length of your run. 

Tips: During the summer, there are also lots of local festivals and events that occur near the Lakefront Trail.

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  1. https://www.traillink.com/trail/oak-leaf-trail-(route-of-the-badger)/
  2. https://city.milwaukee.gov/dpw/infrastructure/multimodal/Bike-Infrastructure/Trails/Beerline-B-Trail
  3. https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/whitefish-bay-milwaukee-wi/
  4. https://www.iceagetrail.org/explore/explore-the-trail/ice-age-trail/
  5. https://urbanecologycenter.org/our-branches/washington-park.html
  6. https://county.milwaukee.gov/files/county/parks-department/Park-Maps/Washington1.pdf
  7. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/hankaaron
  8. https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/parks/laphampeak/recreation/hiking
  9. https://www.visitmilwaukee.org/articles/things-to-do/riverwalk/
  10. https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Explore/Trails/Nature-Trails
  11. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/wisconsin/milwaukee-lakefront

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